Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the Access to Information Act -
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- Report – Access to Information Act
The Access to Information Act became law on .
The Act gives Canadian citizens, permanent residents and any person present in Canada the right of access to information contained in government records, subject to certain specific and limited exceptions.
Pursuant to section 72, the head of every federal institution shall prepare an annual report on the administration of this Act within its institution. This report is submitted to Parliament at the end of each fiscal year.
This report is intended to describe how the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) administered its responsibilities in relation to the Act during the - period.
1. Canadian Space Agency mandate
To better understand the context in which the Access to Information Act is implemented within the CSA, the following provides a general overview of the CSA's objectives and activities.
The CSA reports to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Its mandate, as defined in the Canadian Space Agency Act, is to "
promote the peaceful use and development of space, to advance the knowledge of space through science and to ensure that space science and technology provide social and economic benefits for Canadians."
The CSA is committed to leading the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.
To achieve its mission, the CSA:
- pursues excellence collectively;
- advocates a client-oriented attitude;
- supports employee-oriented practices and open communication;
- commits itself to both empowerment and accountability; and
- pledges to cooperate and to work with partners to our mutual benefit.
The CSA has been a source of inspiration for Canadians for 25 years now. In addition to consolidating major federal space programs, it coordinates all the components of the Canadian Space Program and manages Canada's major space-related activities. The CSA has the expertise to lead knowledge in Canadian speciality fields, and to sponsor, support and encourage the best Canadian companies to make the next steps in space development.
More information on the CSA's activities can be found at: www.asc-csa.gc.ca.
Organization of the implementation of Access to Information activities
Delegation of Authority
The head of the institution under the terms of the Act is the Minister of Science, Innovation and Economic Development. In , some of the powers under the Act were delegated by him to the incumbent of the position of Vice President, CSA, to the incumbent of the position of Chief Information Officer as well as to the incumbent of the position of Coordinator, Access to Information and Open Data. The appended delegation of authorities grid identifies these delegated powers.
Responsibility for the implementation of the Act on a daily basis is that of the Coordinator, Access to Information and Open Data who reports to the Vice President and the Chief Information Officer.
The Access to Information and Privacy Office (ATIP) is headed by the Coordinator. Since -, an additional officer has been added, and both employees work closely with members of the Executive Committee to enforce and uphold the Act.
Change in the Role of the ATIP Office
In -, the ATIP Office was mandated to not only process access to information requests and to report on the application of the acts, but also to implement the Open Government initiative.
The decision to combine the activities of access to information and those of open data was taken in order to unite two activities dedicated to the dissemination of information under the control of the CSA. This new unit has thus proven to be a one-stop shopping site both for CSA employees wishing to disseminate information as well as for the public that wishes to obtain it.
This pairing has proven to be innovative and effective because of the centralization of activities, but especially because of the optimization of the application of knowledge. After a year of operation, the merging of these activities has proven to be unequivocally logical in the effectiveness and efficiency of the processing of information to be made public.
In order to ensure compliance with service standards in terms of access to information despite, the addition of a second mandate, the CSA has assigned an additional full-time employee (FTE) to the ATIP Office, thus bringing to 2 the total number of resources allocated to activities related to access to information and open data.
The Request Processing Procedure
When it receives a request under the Act, the ATIP Office consults the Office of Primary Interest, and when necessary and depending on the case, Justice Canada, the communities of practices, the Treasury Board , or other institutions.
A computerized system for processing access requests is used to list the administrative actions taken, to review the documents in question, and to apply the exceptions and exemptions, if necessary.
Various consultations may occur in the course of processing requests for access. Primarily, the ATIP Office consults third parties. Given the nature of CSA's activities and the third party information it holds, the ATIP Office must validate the confidential nature of the information under its control with these third parties. When a document is considered as having to be excluded under the Act, the ATIP Office will also initiate consultations with Justice Canada which, if necessary, will seek the opinion of the Privy Council Office to ensure that it is in fact an excluded document.
Once the documents have been analyzed and consultations have taken place, the ATIP Office recommends the application of exemptions to the CSA's Vice President and the Chief Information Officer who are responsible for the approval of the communication of documents disseminated under the Act.
The documents in response to access requests are then transmitted to the applicants. A summary of the completed access requests is then broadcast monthly on open.canada.ca.
Report – Access to Information Act
1. Interpretation of the statistical report on Access to Information requests
The statistical report for the period from to is included at the end of this chapter.
Requests Received and Processed
The number of access requests received and processed during the current fiscal year increased significantly over the - level when a decrease was recorded.
The number of requests received increased from 12 to 53 during the year. This was a record 358% increase. In the last five years, the CSA has received an average of 20 requests per year.
The requests received in - included four requests carried over from the previous year. Thus, in total, the CSA processed 55 requests in -, since two requests were carried forward to the next fiscal year.
The following table illustrates the trend in requests carried forward and received over the last four fiscal years:
|Carried forward from the previous year||4||4||5||6||1|
|Received throughout the year||53||12||17||38||23|
Sources of Requests
For the first time in recent years, the public represented the largest share of applicants with 35% of the total. Previously, the media constituted the largest share of applicants. The following table shows the origin of requests:
|Public: 35%||Media: 25%||Commercial: 23%||Decline to Identify: 9%||Organization: 4%||University: 4%|
Informal requests are those for which calls are received for information that has already been communicated under the Act. No charges can be imposed and the request is subject to no response time. In addition, the Act does not give the applicant the right to file a complaint with the Information Commissioner.
For two years, the CSA has noted an increase in this type of request for access following dissemination of the summaries of completed requests on the open.canada.ca portal. This one-stop shop seems to have contributed significantly to an increase in requests, since applicants can make them electronically, thereby facilitating access to already published documents.
Last year, the first increase of 100% over the previous year was noted, with the processing of 12 requests. In -, another increase, this time in the order of 366%, was recorded. In total, the CSA responded to 56 requests informally in -. The following graph shows variances related to informal requests over the past five years.
|Number of informal requests||56||12||4||7||0|
Provisions and Processing Times
The Act stipulates that requests for access must normally be answered within 30 calendar days. Of those processed in -, 25 requests (45%) were answered in compliance with these requirements. This represents an increase compared to last year when 33% of the requests were answered within 30 days.
It is important to note that the Act stipulates that the time limit for certain requests can be extended due to consultations with third parties or other organizations. Given the nature of the documents requested from the CSA in -, many of the requests required such consultations. It was therefore necessary for the CSA to extend the deadlines in order to meet its obligations under the Act.
Thus, taking authorized extensions into account, 96% of the requests were answered within the prescribed time limits.
|1 to 15||16 to 30||31 to 60||61 to 120||181 to 365|
|No Existing Documents||6||2||0||0||0|
Exceptions and Exclusions Invoked
In considering requests that were answered in -, the CSA invoked exemptions and exclusions for 26 cases (59%).
In addition to certain Cabinet confidences, the CSA has many documents containing third party information of the commercial, technical and financial type. Most of the time, these require the application of exemptions and exclusions. For this reason, a larger portion of the documents requested resulted in a partial communication.
The following table shows the frequency of exemptions and exclusions invoked in -. It should be noted that the same request can result in the application of more than one article.
|Exemption and Exclusion Items||Frequency|
Medium Used for the Documents Disclosed
In -, a total of 44 requests resulted in the communication of documents. Of this number, only seven responses (16%) were produced in paper format, while 37 others (84%) were produced electronically.
This is the first year in which the electronic communication option was the one most frequently used. As was the case in previous years, no documents examinations took place in the CSA's reading room.
Pages Examined and Disclosed
Due to the implementation by the Treasury Board Secretariat in - of a new detailed statistical report, it is now possible to count the total number of pages examined and compare it to the total number of pages released.
These numbers of pages can vary considerably from one year to another depending on the subject of the requests and the quantity of relevant documents held by the CSA.
The number of pages examined during the current financial year proved to be greater with 8,194 pages, compared to the previous year with 2,571 pages. As to the pages disclosed, this number increased by 2,781 to 4,996 pages disclosed in -.
Despite an increase of more than 300% in requests received, the average number of pages disclosed per request nevertheless decreased from 276 pages per request in - to 113 pages per requests in -.
|Number of pages||4996||2215||2613||11061||7318|
Consultations and Extensions
Due to the nature of CSA activities related in particular to the awarding of financial assistance both in terms of grants and contributions as well as contractual agreements, the CSA collects a significant amount of third-party information.
It is thus not unusual that the requests processed result in consultations with these third parties, and by this fact, extensions of the time limit stipulated in the Act. The CSA consults these third parties, and at times, other federal institutions in order to provide as much information as possible in accordance with the spirit and the letter of the Act.
The level of complexity is clearly illustrated by the fact that half of requests processed during the year for the most part required consultations (86%) or legal opinions (11%). These consultations required a time extension of less than 60 days in the vast majority of cases (93%). For each of them, with the exception of one, the applicants were notified of the deadline extension, as stipulated in the Act.
Consultations Received from Other Institutions
In -, the CSA processed a total of 36 requests for consultations from other federal institutions and one request from another organization. These represented a total of 1,050 pages processed.
It can thus be noted that the number of requests for consultations decreased somewhat (-25%) this year compared with the previous year, as shown in the following graph:
|Number of Consultations||37||45||35||32||30|
Among these 37 consultations, 33 CSA recommendations recommended a communication of the documents in whole (89%) and four others, a partial communication (11%).
The majority of these requests were processed within 30 days (92%), whereas another request was processed within a 31 to 60-day period (8%).
Consultations Relative to Cabinet Confidences
In -, for three of the requests processed, consultations were required with Justice Canada. These consultations were intended to determine the application of section 69 and were held within 60 days.
Justice Canada was consulted due to the Treasury Board Secretariat directives which specified that this Department could now confirm the application of section 69. This directive contributed to the improvement of consultation times over the past several years.
Fees and Exemptions
The CSA complies with the Treasury Board Secretariat guidelines with respect to the imposition or exemption of an access fee. In -, a net amount of $180 was collected in application presentation fees.
The CSA collected presentation fees in 68% of requests due the fact that two applications were divided into several parts. Because of the documents in question (multiple contracts), this practice resulted in our better serving applicants, ensuring they received the documents within the prescribed time and that the processing of requests was facilitated. As a result, a total of $85 was dispensed.
The costs of applying the Act were estimated at $111,642 for the period in question.
Due to the restructuring of the ATIP Office to ensure implementation of the Open Government initiative, the salary-related expenses ($107,524) represented 50% of the task of the two resources.
The costs of goods and services ($4,118) are mainly related to the cost of maintenance and of licences for the electronic system for access application processing, in addition to including charges related to the purchase of administrative supplies.
2. Complaints and audits
A complaint was lodged with the CSA under section 32 of the Act in -. A complete copy of the administrative record, the documents responding to request and the evidence related to the application of exceptions was transmitted to the Information Commissioner's office. This complaint concerning the application of exceptions by the CSA is still being analyzed by the investigator.
No audit on ATIP Office activities was undertaken.
3. Monitoring compliance
The time required to process access to information requests is monitored through the electronic ATIP management system. A weekly report is also prepared for management and for persons concerned by these requests.
4. Training and awareness enhancement
In addition to managing access to information and personal information requests, the ATIP Office staff provide counselling and advice to the CSA's employees on observance of the Act. This counselling and advice is presented in a personalized way and is based on requests.
Information sessions covering the processing of requests for access to information and awareness sessions on the marking of documents at the CSA are also available on request. One session, to which five people attended, was held in -. In order to properly target needs in this area, an analysis was carried out and new training will be recommended next year.
Finally, in order to increase the awareness of CSA employees faced with the application of the Act, informative messages were broadcast on the corporate screens on two occasions during the year. These screens are installed in the CSA's facilities and stream messages intended for employees.
5. Policies, guidelines, procedures and initiatives
The CSA's policies, guidelines and procedures for administering the Access to Information Act, including subsection 67.1, are accessible on the CSA's intranet. No changes were made to them in -.
The ATIP office did not undertake any new initiative during this period.
Through its ATIP Office, the CSA will pursue its mandate to respond to all requests for access to information in accordance with the spirit and the letter of the Act.
This year, it broke new ground by combining access to information services with those of open data. In -, it will consolidate the implementation of these combined activities through new initiatives which will be reported on in its next annual report.
Delegation of authorities
Canadian Space Agency
Access to Information Act and Privacy Act Delegation Order
The Minister of Industry Canada, pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, hereby designates the persons holding the positions set out in the schedule hereto, or the persons occupying on an acting basis those positions, to exercise the powers and functions of the Minister as the head of a government institution, under the section of the Acts set out in the schedule opposite each position. This Delegation Order supersedes all previous Delegation Orders
|Position||Access to information Act and Regulations||Privacy Act and Regulations|
|Vice President||Full authority||Full authority|
|Chief Information Officer||Full authority||Full authority|
|Coordinator ATIP Services||Section: 4(2.1), 7, 8(1), 9, 11(2), (3), (4), (5), (6),12, 25, 26, 27(1), (4), 43,44,71,72||Section : 8(4), 9(1), (4), 10, 15, 17, 31, 35(4), 72(1)|
Dated, at the City of Ottawa
The Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains
Minister of Industry (to be known as Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development)
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